Now in Irrisen
His first days in Irrisen were fine. Kind of cold and frightful, the company so delightful. The land was harsh. The government oppressive and cruel. Attempts to reason with people had been failing regularly, and it was being revealed that a lot of people could not be trusted. And not just in a not pay you back the 5gp they owe you kind of way, but in the we’re going to drug your tea and help the witches spy on you kind of way. But moral was high, and he was keen to try and help his friends make things better.
He started to learn more about the evils of the land, and witnessing some first hand – Nadia’s daughter stolen and sacrificed, the stories of Feril’s village and family being crucified and tortured, the harsh rule of the town by the local witchery, neighbours betraying neighbours, closed borders, no free trade or travel, paranoia towards outsiders, rampant xenophobia, threats of war and invasion of other lands, and a lot of just generally evil stuff.
He had killed more people and creatures in the last week than he had in his previous 130 years, and for some reason seemed to almost be revelling in it at times, laughing and smiling as he painted the walls with his opponent’s blood. His attitude towards killing had been surprising to him, revelling in intimidating his opponents and causing them fear before slaying them. He’d even slain several people in their sleep with a surprising lack of guilt or afterthought, easily justifying it as him or them, or that they were evil, or something something if they had a chance to stab him they would, wave of the hand, let’s move on.
But things were okay, and he was still himself and feeling good.
Until the ice tower.
The curse struck him harder than anything that came before. It was a trap, just a trap, protecting some treasure room, in some tower, belonging to some witch. But it revealed somethings to him, some very important things, of this land and its people.
This wasn’t a place where he could waltz into a treasure room and expect his reflexes to save him from some clumsily made arrow trap. Where people protect their treasure through inflicting physical injury and death, hoping to just straight up eliminate the threat. This wasn’t the sort of place to be carefree and trusting. This wasn’t the sort of place to be a lute playing, charming, overconfident, optimistic, bringer of joy and levity.
This was the sort of place where people protect their treasures by inflicting long term injury and disability on potential thieves, preferring to cruelly inflict pain and suffering in exchange for their pilfered goods. This was a place of powerful magic. This was a place filled with distrust, danger, cruelty, and evil. This was a place to take seriously.
This wasn’t the sort of place to be Jack.
This was the sort of place where he could die.
If he was going to survive here, he was going to have to change. If he was going to do more than survive – if he was going to fight and defeat the evil of this land, free its people from its cruel rulers, and help protect the rest of Golarion from invasion – he was going to have to change a lot.
He needed to become darker, harder, less forgiving. His enemies will show him no mercy, not in this land, so he shall show them none in response. He was playing the long game. To survive, to win the war, to bring the greater good, even if to do so he would be acting in ways that others would consider not good.
Beyond this reasoned (Wisdom 8) decision on the need to change, he could also feel himself changing physically, to match the land itself. He knew Elves often change physically to match their surroundings, he’d seen it before in himself during his travels, but never this quick or to this extent. His hair was losing its luster, as was his skin, and he suspected his eyes were changing too, based on the looks from his friends (no mirrors to verify). He was becoming paler, matching the snow and ice, starting to become an almost grey scale version of himself. As if the light was leaving him, and he was moving into shadow.
But he had not lost the light, not like when he was a child, not when he came close to losing everything. He was not adrift, he was not lost. He was focused now. Perhaps more so than he had ever been. He knew what he had to do to survive. And he was now willing to make the hard decisions, the decisions that people don’t want to make when faced with them. To do what needs to be done, even if some may disagree with it, because a failure to make the hard choice may mean death for us all, and our mission to fail. He will ensure that he and his companions will live to see this through to the end.
Once he has reached the end, and he has done what he can to free this land and its people. Then he will atone.